The Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel to Los Angeles to face off against a tough Rams football team in what has all the hallmarks of a classic shoot-out. Both teams are undefeated heading into Sunday’s contest, but the Buccaneers will seek vengeance for last season’s three-point loss to the Rams in Week 11.
The Rams lead the all-time series 15-9, but the matchup brings a Buccaneers team that is on a 6 game regular-season winning streak, dating back to December 13th, 2020, against the Minnesota Vikings. The Buccaneers won all four play games, including the Super Bowl, bringing the team’s total winning streak to 10 games. Los Angeles has won 4 out of their last 5 games, including the Wildcard — last season. The Rams have won 6 of the last 7 meetings with the Buccaneers. The last time the Buccaneers defeated the Rams was on September 29th, 2019, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, winning that game 55-40. This will mark the first time these two teams have met in So-Fi Stadium. Do not expect a warm welcome, Bucs fans.
The Brady Bunch: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will start in the 37th city and 44th Stadium he’s played in, adding to his legacy. Brady heads into Week 3 on a high note after throwing five touchdown passes, two to tight end Rob Gronkowski, two to wide receiver Mike Evans, and one to wide receiver Chris Godwin. Brady leads the NFL with nine touchdown passes.
The Other Guy: On the other side, Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to continue his streak of throwing at least two touchdown passes while recording a passer rating of 100 or higher to 4 games. Stafford has thrown for at least 295 yards in four of five career starts against the Buccaneers.
Keys to the game
Keeping Kupp and Woods in check: Last season at Tampa Bay, wide receiver Cooper Kupp had 11 catches for 145 yards, and wide receiver Robert Woods had 12 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. For their effort, they became the fourth pair of wide-receiver teammates, each with at least 11 receptions and 130 receiving yards in the same game since 1970. Stopping Kupp and Woods will be vital on Sunday. Through the first two games of the season, Kup and Woods have amassed 361 yards and 4 touchdowns. Kupp caught 9 passes for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns in last week’s win over the Colts, while Woods caught 64, which was good for 227 of Matt Stafford’s 278 yards thrown in Indianapolis a week ago.
Stop the run: Sony Michel suffered a quad injury last season that slowed him down a bit, but when he’s hot, he’s hot. Michel put in just 46 yards last week and has yet to see a 1,000-yard season since coming into the league in 2018; however, he does have seven 100-yard games under his belt, so that is something the Bucs need to keep their eye on. Darell Henderson is another ball carrier that the Bucs need to keep their eye on if he does, in fact, play on Sunday. Henderson had a solid day last week in Indy, catching 3 passes for 29 yards and rushing for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Keep Tom Brady upright: There is no questioning how important it will be to keep Aaron Donald away from Tom Brady. Donald has only one sack on the season but has recorded an outstanding 57.5 sacks over the last 3 seasons. Donald is not the only one to watch as linebacker Justin Hollins can be very disruptive as Bears’ quarterback Andy Dalton found out the hard way. Hollins put him on his butt twice in Week 1.
Establish the run: The one thing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not been able to achieve is establishing the running game. The Bucs have some good running backs, but they’ve been slow getting going. Through the first two games, Ronald Jones has carried the rock 10 times, managing 41 yards. That is a respectable 4.1 yards a carrier, however. Playoff Lenny has carried the load the paste two games ripping on 84 yards on 20 carries. Giovani Bernard hasn’t carried the ball once, but that’s not what he’s here for. He’s here to catch footballs. He’s been targeted just 5 times with 4 receptions for 29 yards. Time to get bernard fired up.
- Cornerback Jalen Ramsey picked off Wentz last week.
- Defensive lineman Sebastion Joseph-Day had a career-high 9 tackles last week.
- Linebacker Troy Reeder recorded his first career interception in Indianapolis.
- Safety Jordan Fuller recorded 7 tackles last week and intercepted Tom Brady twice in last season’s game in Tampa.
- Safety Taylor Rapp had 9 tackles last week.
- Linebacker Lavonte David has a total of 59 tackles and 11 tackles for a loss in 7 games against the Rams. He had an interception last time the Bucs played the Rams on the road.
- Tight end Rob Gronkowski has 4 touchdowns through Week2.
- Linebacker Devin White has 10 tackles in 3 of his past 4 games and has 8 sacks in his past 5 games on the road
- Wide receiver Chris Godwin has a touchdown catch last week and will look for his 6th consecutive game with a touchdown reception. He had 12 catches for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns in the last meeting between these two teams.
- Safety Mike Edwards became the first player since 1992 to record two interceptions returned for a touchdown in the 4th quarter of any single game.
- Wide receiver Mike Evans had 75 yards and two touchdowns last week and has had 13 games with two or more touchdown receptions since entering the league. Since 2014, Mike Evans is second in the league behind Antonio Brown (65) for the most touchdown receptions (63).
Expectations: I have a feeling there won’t be any exploitations of our secondary. A shoot-out I’m not expecting. Carlton Davis is elite, yes I said it, and I meant it! He has played exceptionally well the last two games, but he will have his handful with Kupp; although, he can handle it. Jamel Dean has taken some criticism over the past couple of weeks, and I believe that’s unjust. I expect him to continue the way he’s playing but make a clutch play, hushing the hate. Will Mike Edwards rip two more passes for touchdowns this week? Probably not, but that would be awesome.
I like Tampa to win a close one, but if the defense forces stops and turnovers, the Buccaneers can run away with this one. It may be a nail-biter game, but I am not expecting 70-90 points to be scored in this one. The Buccaneers should put up another 30 point score, but not too much more because this is a Raheem Morris defense they are going up against, with the Rams scoring 28.
*Sourced from the National Football League